She had eyes full of curiosity, silently assessing the group of 28 children clambering over one another to get to the snack table. They all wanted to be first in line for the chocolate covered bananas, but this one girl held back from the group. She scooched closer to me and smiled when she caught my eye. She looked at the chaos and then back at me, ready to tell me a story.

“I’ve been guessing people’s ages all week and I’ve been getting 90% of them right. I love ages.”

“I like the way you think, kiddo. What are you? 8?”

“YEAH! Good guess.”

“How old am I?”

“Ohhh, that’s so hard. 18? Maybe 19?”

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I had to smile at her guess. In reality, I just turned 26 – a far cry from my late teens. She looked shocked when I let out my real age, a little sad that I’d brought down her precious average. I think she was on to something though. I’ve lived on this earth 26 whole years, but I certainly don’t feel much older than 19.

I always thought I’d have my life together by 26 and that I’d be as close to perfect as I would ever get. But the truth is, life has only gotten more complicated in the last seven years and I often wonder if I have any clue about what I’m doing, haha. – – – My bed is next to the window so I can sleep in the moonlight and I stay up way to late every night. I have no idea what my next step in life is. I’m not addicted to coffee yet but my breakfast routine is non-existent. I still love to meet new people and wonder at the depth of human emotions and behaviors. I can’t get enough of 80’s music and I eat enough sugar to kill a diabetic. I sing with all the energy and emotion I have and I don’t care what others think of me. I love to love others and spend hours devising ways to make others feel special.

The more I think about it, that little girl didn’t need to lower her average after all. Truth be told, I feel a lot closer to 18 than I do to 30.

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     There is a wedding tradition that rain is a sign of good luck on your wedding day, however, no one would have wished a thunderstorm on Marko and Lora’s tenth anniversary vow renewal. They had been planning this celebration for months but as the big day approached, the skies turned grey and foreboding. The weather channel said rain; 85% chance of thunderstorms, to be precise. Lora sent me a text to let me know the weather was going to cause complications, but I could already see the ominous clouds from miles away as I drove north to Hughson the day before the wedding. My heart went out to Lora and her girls, knowing the hundreds of hours they had put into the planning, and knowing the way things would need to be changed.

     I arrived on Saturday morning with an umbrella and a camera rain sleeve in my bag. I’m not sure what I expected to find, but I was happily surprised when the first person I saw was smiling. Hurrying to put up a canopy, but smiling nevertheless. A round of hugs met me at the door, and I found the bride laughing with her hair stylist. The bridesmaids and flower girls wandered around the house getting ready, popping in and out to talk or find a missing shoe or mascara wand. There was a nervous undertone as the group wondered when the skies were going to open and let the rain fall, but they weren’t going to let weather ruin the day. The celebration would go on!

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     I loved that the main “getting ready” room was in the living room with set of giant windows. As the morning went on, the room became the hub of hair styling, putting on shoes, and hugs and laughs among family members. Everyone needed help with something, and were willing to help each other in return.

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     All morning, friends and family helped set up tents, move chairs and tables, and decorate the venue in covered places. The ceremony was set to take place under a breezeway, canopy’s were put over the dinner tables and the DJ and desert table were moved under the porch.

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     Lora started the short walk down the aisle as the first of the rain drops fell. She clung to her father’s arm with a beaming smile and at the halfway mark, took the arms of her sons to finish the walk to the front. There in the breezeway, crowded with loved ones, the couple met before God, family and friends. Ten years into their lives together, they pledged to love and serve each other for other ten, twenty or thirty years as God sees fit.

Villarreal Vow Renewal (12) Villarreal Vow Renewal (13) Villarreal Vow Renewal (14) Villarreal Vow Renewal (16)      This wasn’t just a wedding to mark the start of a life together, but a celebration of ten years of God’s work in their lives – It was so fun to see the difference that made in the reception. Toasts were made by the couple to thank loved ones for their sacrificial support over the years and the whole family danced together as those watching struggled to hold back their tears. It was a true celebration. A time to give thanks for all that they have been blessed with and  time to look forward to the joys and adventures still to come. Villarreal Vow Renewal (17) Villarreal Vow Renewal (15)Villarreal Vow Renewal (18) Villarreal Vow Renewal (19) Villarreal Vow Renewal (20) Villarreal Vow Renewal (21) Villarreal Vow Renewal (22) Villarreal Vow Renewal (23) Villarreal Vow Renewal (24) Villarreal Vow Renewal (25)

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